Before he was appointed Managing Director of Liberia Airport Authority, LAA, Wil Bako Freeman was the Director, Operations and Regional Integration and later Director, Corporate Services at the West African Monetary Institute, WAMI, a specialized agency of ECOWAS, working towards a common currency and Central Bank for West Africa. He had also served as Senior Advisor to the Minister of Commerce in Liberia. He had also been a Central Banker with the United States Federal Reserve Bank of New York. With work experience in various countries in the world, he spoke to ABUBAKAR HASHIM of his mission, vision and challenges at the Airport in Monrovia.
When were you appointed Managing Director and what are your achievements and challenges so far?
I was appointed in June 2015. It has been interesting, engaging and challenging times. Rehabilitation of the run-way is on-going. The procurement process is on-going. It is funded by the European Investment Bank, Saudi Fund and BADEA Fund (Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa). By next dry season, work commences. It will be completed by October next year.
We have plans for new terminal, to be funded by China Exim Bank. It will start next dry season. We have increased the number of airlines coming in and an increase of passenger frequency in the country. We have increased passengers’ confidence at the airport. More importantly, we have also increased airlines’s confidence on our airport. We handled the Ebola pandemic successfully. These developments on-going at our airports have put up a positive image on our country in international circles, particularly in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
What is your working relationship with other airports in the Sub-Region?
We have a cordial relationship with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), South Africa Airport Authority (SAAA) and other regional bodies across Africa. We have training programs with these bodies and we belong to various aviation organizations in Africa.
How does the immediate future look like for the Liberia Airport Authority?
We are improving on what we have, to develop the future. We have learnt our lessons from sister countries that went through similar development paths. We have survived a long-drawn war and recently, the Ebola. We have emerged stronger and more formidable than ever.
We are optimistic for the future. We are a determined and resilient people. The future is indeed, bright.